The elephant is still in the room: Women leaders in Caribbean and the silent struggle`

BY R.D. Miller

The foggy mirror that exposed the past:

The glass ceiling in the Caribbean may have had some fractures, but it is still undisturbed. This is a crucial moment when political communities are questioning who is best placed to take them out of violent crime, endemic poverty, and a new direction in the desperate hope of a better future.

These local political communities repeatedly are controlled by men, but women have been critical to their advancement, whether as an educator, nurse, police officer, or as a wife who keeps the family together.

Photo by Anete Lusina

In a recent report by Leta Hong Fincher for CNN, she noted that a “United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union report highlighted that 10 of 152 elected heads of state were women, and men made up 75 percent of parliamentarians, 73 percent of managerial decision-makers and 76 percent of the people in mainstream news media.”

Over the past few decades, a growing number of women have emerged from the shadows and sought higher positions, but many women have also failed. Despite these cracks in the ceiling, it has not favored an easy passage for others.

It is not their accomplishments that have been questioned or their commitment to public duty, but it may be “being a woman”.

From the archived of achievement:

Since the death of Eugenia Charles, the first woman to hold the post of Prime Minister of Dominica, on July 21, 1980–on June 14, 1995, there has been no other to date in Dominica. Today, the selection of leaders resembles a “beauty contest” and where their image is more important than skills or economic policies.

The Hon. Eugenia Charles: Prime minister of Dominica, July 21, 1980, – June 14, 1995,

The Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller: Prime minister of Jamaica; March 2006 – September 2007 and again January 2012 – March 2016

The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar Prime Minister: Trinidad and Tobago, May 2010 – September 2015.

Except for the late Eugenia Charles, Portia Simpson, and Kamla Persad were defeated when they ran for re-election. It created more critical analyses of how they lost rather than their political accomplishments.

They were too tough, unable to connect to shifting demographics; something disconnected them from the working class, oppressed, but rarely spoke of hidden sexism, misogynist views, low voter turnout, and parliamentary control in which some representatives appeared not to recognize their power.

Prime Minister Mottley, twice-elected leader of the political opposition before his stunning victory in 2018, was one region’s brightest independent philosophers. She recently encouraged increased moral leadership and critical collaboration, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, to enhance the health systems across the region.

The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley: Prime Minister of Barbados

While not all women often agree on the same measures, particular political approach even values based on experience, the pressure for socio-economic equality, upward mobility, gender equity, many scholars noted that calls for creative collaboration to have a stronger representation in the Caribbean and elsewhere remains in the mirror.

The elephant in the room:

The incremental rise of populism never works in the Caribbean, especially today. It typically leads to what seems to be personal financial gains of the elected office. The legislative elections should undoubtedly focus on the next generation, rigorous debates in which the legitimate concerns and interests of voters are properly aligned with their economic future.

Recently, I studied a deliberation concerning Lisa Hanna, former World 1993 and MP (Jamaica) whose personal beauty attracts more recognition than her policies.

Reports have shown that Lisa Hanna has won her local elections regardless of the party power and several voters believe she may have a stronger chance to give Jamaican a simple distinction regarding the nation’s future.

Hon. Lisa Hanna: Member of Parliament-Jamaica

Will she ascend to lead the National People’s Party (PNP) of Dr. Peter Phillips, MP and Leader of the Opposition?

Will the Honorable Dr. Phillips, who holds the power, surrender to her or any other comrade after decades in government? This is still a crossroads as far as changing guards are concerned.

Mr. Phillip has been one of Jamaica’s finest legislators and experience contributed remarkably to the nation. However, some probable voters may consider it is time to cede power, as the demographics have shifted to a younger group.

But can he instantly remove the barriers that women often face in politics, from a decade of a stained mirror woven an old colonial and slavery mentality, where only a few get through, or can he use his skills and talents to capture the imagination of young voters to change course, or continue to steer this political ship into an iceberg?

The fact is, it seems, this party ship captain leadership will take if not everyone, a majority of the crew if it sinks based on the polls with them.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, stagnated economic issues, and high employment, whoever is selected will need a strategy to reduce organized crime, violence attracts new investments that benefit all, and aggressively reduce the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Given the complexity of the global economy, the intellectual and physical capacity of a candidate to lead a country in pain is a genuine question. If Lisa Hanna became the commander of the party or elected the next prime minister, would the elephants leave the room for her administration?

Often policy in the Caribbean seems to operate as an apprentice in a local mechanic’s workshop. An opportunity to show his skills only when the supervisor has no choice, or can no longer steer, so we spread.

Unfortunately, holding on to power creates division, disconnect, and a stalemate of new ideas for advancement, and to create a pathway for the next women leaders.

Of course, some will push back with force to make it look like it’s a day in church, and I get it, they’re all politicians, and I’m not in the room. The parliamentary system throughout the region, for these potential women leaders to climb to the top, they must win the approval of the men in the system.

A delicate balance:

Leadership is again the skill to establish a feeling of steady and realize that being a passenger one can use the experience of a road traveled for years to offer better direction rather than trying to drive when one must make frequent stops to attend to personal needs.

Maybe term-limits should be considered where communities across the region must ask themselves; each election cycle with the same guards, are they feel safer regardless and have the new platform for economic prosperity on many fronts, jobs, education, access to good and affordable healthcare regardless of party affiliation, especially in poor and developing countries plagued with crime and economic stagnation.

Every vote has consequences, but losing an election does not mean ascending mobility for women in the Caribbean is lifeless. The appointment of more women to political office is essential; in particular, teenage girls to have a role model, better education, job opportunity, health, and security.

People genuinely believe, “democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but it is an oligarchy system where elected leaders get to select who they figured out the community will recognize from an emotional connection on both sides to provide them with increased control on personal power disguised as working for the community.

To be more than just a number, it requires more mobilization through common threads, where more women support each other regardless of political sides because after the dust settles, its politics and action can be the key to student success or failure.

Photo by Christina Morillo

This is not a brutal censure from a political aim of view. Many elected representatives use appointed positions to state that they are inclusive. But purposeful exploitation also comes in all forms, even at the top, with political titles, because if they can only hear her opinion voice after the meeting.

The Mother’s Day tweets to your constituents are great, but an economic plan to lift these young women out of poverty and crime should support them, and others that may be trapped in a violent relationship.

Handing out few grocery bags is always good for the poor, but if followed by a camera for a 30-second video to tweet while asking the recipients to say thank you to the leaders, the exploitation of the borders. Of course, it offers a temporary solution and the following day, but the long-term viability remains murky.

Facing the reality head on.

The centrality of women’s issues will not change because of the elections. Access to crucial career pathways is critical, particularly for young women. To reduce these obstacles, leaders need to coach and encourage the next generation to lead. For young people in the region to emerge as the next leaders, they need to know there is hope.

This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

According to Pew’s analysis, and an academic study noted that about 50 percent of women in the labor market today have an undergraduate degree matching the number of men educated at college. Sadly, these academic accomplishments still have barriers in developing leaders and business owners to design a model for the later generation.

The voice of young people in the region for them to emerge as the next leaders still need to know there is hope. This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

I’m not an expert on women’s politics, and although more women have become politicians in the region, their male counterparts seem to remain in the shadows.

They must see the barriers or tenacious issues that women encounter as one of them and not as the women on the separate part of the house working together to change the barriers in poor communities.

I do not have an electoral vote, nor do I support anyone. A political candidate should not lose an election because he is a woman, and he should not lose because he is standing against a woman.

It is not a frantic call for men to resign from their elected positions. And just because you can’t see the elephant, or because one is charismatic, doesn’t mean he’s not there.

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